When couples living in Northern Virginia decide to end their marriage, they face a number of crucial issues, among which child support can be the most painful to resolve. Courts encourage divorcing couples to attempt to negotiate both child custody and child support, but many couples are unable to do this. Instead, the court must collect evidence and make its own decision according to Virginia’s laws on the award and calculation of child support.
The court will first look at the financial resources of both the custodial and the non-custodial parent. Usually, the non-custodial parent is expected to pay support to the custodial parent, but Virginia law places the burden of providing adequate financial care on both parents. The amount of support is based upon the reasonable financial needs of each child and the ability of each parent to contribute to that support. The most significant factors are each parent’s income and living expenses, day care expenses, medical insurance, any government benefits the child may be receiving and the living arrangements for the children. The amount of support is automatically reviewed by the court every three years.
The court will examine the amount of support that is provided by the parents of other children in the neighborhood. The court will also make a determination about the cost of health insurance, child care expenses, basic education expenses and visitation travel costs. Support is payable until the child reaches the age of 19 or graduates from high school.
Either parent may file a petition with the court to change the amount of support if he or she can prove that a “substantial change” has occurred in the life circumstances of the child or either parent. The change must also have been unanticipated. Such petitions usually require a court appearance and, attorneys are usually involved.
Anyone with questions about calculating child support or filing a motion based upon changed circumstances may wish to consult an experienced divorce attorney for advice.